Causes of vision problems

Important causes of blindness in two eyes

There are many causes of blindness. Three important ones are:


This is the cause in 20% of cases where children are affected. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye. In children it may be due to hereditary causes, or due to infections like rubella during pregnancy. Whatever the initial cause, blindness due to cataracts can be prevented by early detection and treatment.


Retinopathy of prematurity:

This is the cause in 20% of cases affecting children. Retinopathy of prematurity is the scarring of the retina at the back of the eye that may occur when high levels of oxygen are administered to premature babies. Blindness due to retinopathy of prematurity can be prevented by early detection and treatment.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Corneal scarring:

This is the cause in 10% of cases affecting children. Corneal scarring refers to scarring of the window in the front of the eye. It may be due to infections, Vitamin A deficiency, and the use of harmful traditional eye medicines. Blindness due to corneal scarring can be prevented by early detection and treatment.

Corneal scarring

Macular Degeneration.

There are two basic types:

  • Age related macular degeneration usually does not develop until the sixth decade of lif, although there are causes documented in patients as young as 40. Because of the later onset of this disease, it is inherited.
  • Early onset appears to be genetic and is a condition that is programmed into our cells and not caused by injury or infection or any other external agent. Certain genes that are necessary for normal vision give faulty messages to the cells in the macula, leading to their progressive degeneration and eventual vision loss. Macular degeneration cannot be prevented. People with macular degeneration will always retain some peripheral vision.


This is when the body does not produce enough insulin and a person must take medication or inject him/herself. People normally complain that they only see certain parts of an object and they also complain of having blurred vision.



Pressure builds up and results in vision field loss. Sometimes if the pressure cannot be controlled it might end up in blindness. Eye drops can be prescribed or they can operate to try and drain the fluid.


Retinitis Pigmentosa.

This is an inherited eye condition. People normally complain of loss of peripheral vision and the person ends up having tunnel vision. They function quite well in daylight but are blind at night.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Important causes of blindness in one eye.


These can result from accidents caused by a variety of objects, such as sticks, stones, BB pellets and fireworks. Children should be discouraged from playing with items like these.

“Lazy eye”

This may occur where children have a squint (when eyes are not straight), or sometimes if the child needs glasses. If neglected, this condition cannot be treated.

How to prevent childhood blindness?

  • No sticks, stones, BB gun pellets and fireworks.
  • No harmful traditional eye medicines.
  • Ensure good nutrition and face hygiene.

If you think your child has a vision problem, don’t delay, get their eyes tested by a professional.